I have this bed that I must describe for you. It’s not a simple metal frame with an attached head and footboard that I see often. It’s also not a mattress and box spring on the floor like my college days. No this is a Bed, with a capital ‘B’.
First, it’s old. It’s over 300 years old and it’s been in my family the whole time. My Mom is an antique nut. For years she and Dad ran their own antique store, so she knows her stuff. However, this bed wasn’t one of those unique finds she was always making in her shop. This one was commissioned by a long-ago relative at a time when mass-producing things wasn’t even an idea. It was also, apparently, a time when things were made big because it’s huge.
Second, it’s big. It’s somewhere between a queen and a king size in width, but it was longer — which makes getting a mattress/box spring for it nearly impossible. Luckily, I found a place in Ohio that will build one to order. I was living in Columbus and dating a lovely lady whose family owned a place that made their own mattresses an hour to the west. She was telling me one night about a special order from some Hollywood pseudo-celebrity. Something clicked and I called my Mom the next day. At this point, the bed had been in storage because the mattress had fallen apart, and she never could find a replacement.
I remember the bed from my Grandmother’s house. To a child it was amazing! The top of the mattress was taller than I was and bouncing on it was so much fun. It was the only place I knew where I could really bounce on the bed. At home, I always was told I would break my bed. At Gramma’s, I was told to bounce away because nothing could hurt that bed! It was also about a foot off the ground, so I found the best place to hide because I could slide under it with ease – although my Mom could as well so once she discovered my hiding place it was a lot less effective.
I didn’t realize why she would say that I couldn’t hurt it until after she passed, and I helped my parents disassemble it for moving. It was not only huge in size, but the frame was solid oak and even just one side rail took two people to carry it. The cross beams were solid as well. The headboard was large and the footboard was several inches thick and as solid as the rest. It took a dolly and three people to move the headboard; it was freaking heavy! When we took it apart, which involved a mallet for knocking out pegs, I realized it wasn’t originally made for a box spring, but the addition of it is why the bed was so tall.
So now you have an idea of this bed. My folks used it until the mattress gave way shortly before they decided to retire and moved into a big RV and travel around the country. They sold their store to a couple of family friends and now they drive seemingly from antique spot to antique spot and are always sending interesting things for the shop. Of all the antiques, a number have stayed in the family, the number one item was the bed, or I should say The Bed.
Instead of putting it back in storage, I decided I really wanted it. It took several friends to help me move it and I had to ply them liberally with pizza and beer once we were done. All of them marveled at it once we got it back together and several of my girlfriends have slept in it and one keeps trying to buy it from me.
One day, during a rather energetic evening, we did the impossible, I heard a crack and didn’t know where it came from. My girlfriend, Lindsey, was on her knees and she was holding onto the headboard for dear life. We weren’t centered on the bed, but on one side when I heard the crack. I thought maybe the motion had caused the headboard to hit the wall. Which, if I were in a position to think at the moment, I would have realized how impossible that should have been. I mean this bed was solid! But at the time, I was behind her doing my best to stimulate her to new and even more active heights.
At this point, there was a second crack and one side of the bed suddenly tilted and tossed us both to the floor, to our great surprise. We looked at each other and started laughing.
“Oh my god, what happened?” Lindsey looked as shocked as I felt.
“I think we broke the bed.” I must have had a shocked look on my face because I would have sworn it would take a tactical nuclear weapon to scratch it.
As much as I would like to say we continued like nothing happened, but the floor was cold, and we were laughing too hard. While I was down there, I looked at the damage, still not fully believing it. I tried to push up the bottom corner, but it barely budged. Lind gave me a hand and we saw the leg, the solid oak leg that looked thicker than my calf actually broke.
Further examination had me truly disheartened. The pins holding the side to the headboard had sheared, the ones holding it to the footboard, one broke, the other popped out and probably needed to be replaced. I was brokenhearted. Lind seem to take it in stride and loved telling our circle of friends how we broke the bed. Every time she told the story for the next week, my heart clenched.
My main worry was trying to get it fixed. I called my semi-regular handyman, Ryder, and all he did was cluck his tongue a few times and tell me I needed a specialist to do it right. He set up a few blocks to at least right the ship while making all sorts of noises about what a splendid piece of furniture it was, like it was dead and never to be resurrected. He did give me a few names to call.
The first call pissed me off so bad that I actually hung up. For the record other than unwanted spam calls, I have never hung up on anyone before, especially someone I called. When I tried to describe the bed and what was wrong, he actually — I am still steaming over it. It went like this:
A gruff, deep male voice said, “I’m don’t understand what you are after, how about you put your husband on and he can explain it to me, little lady!”
I was so incensed I couldn’t even respond. I slammed the phone down so hard I thought I had broken the screen. How dare that misogynistic asshole talk to a potential customer like that! It took me an hour before calling the second number. The guy I talked to next promised to come out in a couple of weeks, which didn’t thrill me but I was happy he was busy, it spoke good things about the quality of his work. He was primarily a carpenter, which concerned me a little. Ryder was pretty specific about needing someone special.
The third call went much better. First off the voice was female and while you think that would mean something to me, the reality was when she introduced herself as a woodworker, not just a handyman or carpenter, I was more impressed. I told her about the bed and she ohed and ahed in all the right places. She sounded impressed and promised to come around tomorrow to take a look and at least give me an estimate and an idea of the timeframe. She also sounded pretty realistic about how hard it might be to find the right wood to match the original. I was more than a little heartened after that call. Is ‘heartened’ even a word? I figure if you can be disheartened, you should be able to heartened! Okay, enough wordsmithing, on with my bed.
The next day, there was a knock at my door at nine in the freaking morning. I was just out of the shower and anticipating my second cup of lifeblood, you might know it as coffee. I tore open the door and stopped dead. The woman standing there was everything I’m not! She was short, blonde, curvy, and had a terrific smile. Well, that’s not totally true, I have a great smile. I’m just not short, blonde, or curvy. She was wearing overalls with a toolbelt slung over her shoulder and the coolest-looking denim hat on the back of her head.
“Hi, I’m Jilli. We talked yesterday.”
“Hello, I’m Brooke and I am about to enjoy a second cup of coffee to get my brain functioning, care for a cup?”
If anything her smile got wider. “I’m sorry for coming over so early, but I wanted to get a look at your bed. I have another job in a little while but your description was amazing.”
I invited her in and got her a cup of coffee, she carried it into my bedroom and whistled under her breath when she got a look at my bed.
“Wow, your description didn’t do this justice. This is amazing!” She started rattling off antique furniture terms that would have gotten my Mom’s attention, but mostly passed over my head. I caught ‘Americana’, but banding, bulb, and bracket went right past me — and those were only the ‘B’s. She took a bunch of pictures, not just of the bed as a whole but the damage in particular. She tsked, tsked a couple of times, but I kept getting an encouraging vibe.
After her autopsy of the damage, we sat down, and she wrote up an estimate. She was detailed and repeated her concern about getting the right wood. Just pieces of oak weren’t enough. For such a work of art — when she called it that, I knew no one else was going to touch it — she said they had to match the grain, and even the part of the tree the wood would have come from. She promised she would find it and even had an idea of the right stain to color match the pieces she would be replacing. She described her experience restoring some antiques so well that I made sure to get an extra card to give to the couple who bought my Mom and Dad’s shop.
It was going to cost a bunch, but I couldn’t fault her or the feeling of confidence I had as she left. My bed was going to be fine and it made me feel so much better.
Lindsey was happy about it since she was a little nervous about the one side of the bed being on blocks currently. She equated it to making love in a car while it’s up on a jack. She called it ‘Coitus Perilous’ and, of course, had to tell our friends. So now they kept checking us for new bruises whenever they saw us.
Finally, the day arrived, Jilli brought a truckload of tools, a bunch of pieces of wood of various sizes and colors. She set up in the garage and promised it would only be two days. The downside was Lind and I had to sleep in the spare bedroom, whose bed is nothing to write home about, other than it seemed to hold up. It made lots of squeaky noises that kept us both laughing. If you can’t laugh with your lover during sex, find a new lover.
Of course, this time Jilli met Lindsey and as expected, Lind told Jilli how it all happened in great detail. I would have been mortified if I hadn’t been living with the story for weeks. As it was, I got to listen to Jilli laugh! The best thing was it was a really good laugh!
After the first day and a lot of trips between the bedroom and the garage, she warned us not to go in the bedroom. She even elicited a promise from Lind to keep me away. It was challenging not to go peek and every time I even looked at the bedroom door, Lind was on me. It did make a fun night, but a frustrating one from my point of view. However, her efforts to keep me distracted were a hell of a lot of fun, even with all the squeaking.
Jilli was back the next day, early, and after enjoying a cup of coffee with both of us, she refused to give us a single clue how well things were going. Come four-o’clock, just as Lind got home from work, Jilli invited us into the bedroom.
She had Lind cover my eyes as we awkwardly went in. I’m taller than Lind, so you can picture her behind me trying to keep my eyes covered. When Lind finally let up, I saw my Bed!
The box spring and mattress were laying against the wall. The Bed looked perfect. If I hadn’t known which side had broken, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you!
Jilli showed us all the repairs and the new pegs, indistinguishable from the old ones. We stood on the cross beams and even jumped a little and nothing moved, nothing creaked. The bed looked amazing. She helped us put the box spring and mattress back on and even with the sheets, comforter, and pillows. Then, just when I expected Jilli to hand me a bill, she started taking off her clothes.
“Of course the only real way to show you how perfect your bed is now is to properly stress test it.”
Copyright © 2021 by Brookell. This story may not be reproduced in any form without the express permission of the author.